Energy Guide: To Recycle or Not to Recycle

Written by: Tiffany Zhao

When it comes to recycling, many Americans understand that separating their garbage is beneficial for the Earth. However, according to Environmental Leader, 25% of Americans do not recycle simply because they do not know how to.  Even as a Conservation Coach, it is still difficult for me to tell what is recyclable and what is not. It is important to recycle because Earth has limited resources that are shrinking everyday due to pollution. Plastic is one of the main reasons why this happens. The production of plastic emits countless greenhouse gases into the air and the mishandle of plastics can result in the collapse of an entire ecosystem. The damage plastic does to our environment is irreversible but can be prevented from further contamination.

There are many things that people mistakenly recycle. One of the biggest items that mistakenly gets recycled are takeout boxes. The cardboard containers themselves can be recycled however, once they are contaminated by food, they should not be put in the recycling bin.

Some plastics are recyclable, others are not. Cling wrap, for example, can be recycled depending on the type of plastic that was used to make it. If the cling wrap is made with Number 2 (High Density Polyethylene) or Number 4 (Low density polyethylene) plastic, then they are recyclable. However, if they are made with number 3 (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic, they are not. Plastic bags, although they are made with similar plastics, are not recyclable.

In addition, there are several items that people can recycle that they do not know about. For example, VHS tapes can be recycled. Some items can be recycled however; they have to be taken to specific locations that specialize in recycling that item. These items may include batteries, electronics, and paint cans. These should not go in the recycling receptacles because they need to be separated between garbage and recycling.

It’s important to understand what is recyclable and what is garbage. If we do not recycle, an excessive amount of recyclable material will fill up landfills and may end up in the ocean. Recycling can prevent further damage to the Earth. Even though we cannot fix the irreversible damage that plastic has already done, however, recycling can reduce the toll that the Earth carries because of our negligence.

If you would like to learn more about sustainability and conservation, feel free to read our other posts. If you are a Walnut Creek resident who would like to save money on your energy and water bills, sign up for a free home consultation today!

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